Edelrid Swift 8.9mm Rope – Climbing Gear Review

Edelrid Swift 8.9mm Triple Rated Rope

Edelrid Swift 8.9mm Triple Rated Rope

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Kev puts Ederid’s 8.9mm triple rated rope to the test in a wide variety of situations. But is it three times as good?

Performance *****

Durability *****

Value for money*****

Edelrid say:

One rope – three certifications. With its 8.9 mm diameter, the Swift is one of the skinniest single ropes on the market. It is a single rope, double rope and twin rope all in one.

  • Minimal weight and diameter, excellent handling
  • Pro Shield finish for optimal performance
  • Dry Shield finish for outstanding dirt and water resistance
  • Thermo Shield treatment for perfect handling
  • Not suitable for working routes or top roping
Perfect used as a single rope for direct rock pitches.

Perfect used as a single rope for direct rock pitches. Here on the Frendo Spur.

This is a long-term test of a fairly specialist climbing rope from Edelrid. The Swift 8.9mm rope is part of a new breed of triple rated ropes, designed versatility and lightweight in mind. A triple rated rope is designed and rated to be used in all 3 common climbing rope applications. Namely single (use on it’s own), twin (use as a pair with another similar diameter rope and clip both ropes into each piece of protection) and finally, double (the system us Brits are most familiar with where we use two ropes of the same diameter but clip them separately into different pieces of protection). You may think, ok so what is so special? I can use any rope in those 3 ways can’t I? Well yes, you can but it doesn’t mean they can be officially classified as such. Having done a bit of research, it is actually remarkably tricky to produce a rope which complies with test standards for all three specifications.

I’ve used the Edelrid Swift 8.9mm rope for a while now and have tested it in all of the 3 situations named above. I have used it as a single rope to save weight on technical alpine routes and also to simplify rope work. I like to use a single rope on routes where there is a mixture of pitched technical climbing, but also easier sections where you are required to take coils and move together. On climbs where an abseil retreat may be necessary I would carry 60m of 6mm cord to use as a pull line. This is a versatile system and allows fast movement on technical ground. The Swift I tested was a 70m length and I like the versatility of a longer rope as it allows bigger pitches to be climbed, increasing speed and also giving the opportunity to find better belay anchors. You also have the option of 35 metre abseils just by doubling the rope.

Edelrid Swift, set up for abseiling using a pull line, descending Pinnochio on Mt Blanc du Tacul's East Face.

Edelrid Swift, set up for abseiling using a pull line, descending Pinnochio on Mt Blanc du Tacul’s East Face.

As well as on alpine climbs, I have used the Swift as a single rope for some specific sport climbing projects due to it light weight, superb handling and smooth running characteristics. I must highlight though, that this is not a route for working your sport project and although I have found it to be extremely durable for a rope of this type, constant short falls and ‘dogging’ will be sure to give premature wear. I did however, use it on a number of occasions whilst trying to redpoint a single 65 metre F8b pitch when I wanted to keep the weight of the rope and associated drag, to a minimum. The Swift was perfect for this.

Sport climbing with the Swift

Sport climbing with the Swift

A WORD OF CAUTION: The Swift is not designed for use with a standard self-locking belay device such as the original GriGri. It needs a specialist device due to the small diameter. Edelrid’s Eddy and Mega Jul or Petzl’s GriGri2 work perfectly.

For UK trad climbers, the Swift is a versatile rope as you can use it on its own on short direct pitches but also add another similar diameter rope to convert to a double rope system. This has cost benefits as you don’t then need to buy a single rope and 2 double rated ropes.

I must confess that I only used the Swift as a twin rope (clipping that and another similar diameter rope into the same karabiner) a couple of times. Maybe this is a British mentality as UK climbers tend to use this system less often than climbers on mainland Europe. It does have benefits though. On direct mountain pitches you have the ropework simplicity (almost) of one rope, but the safety of 2 should one become damaged. You also have a system that allows you to do full length abseils on descent.

Handling

The Swift handles superbly. It uncoiled without twists  pretty much straight out of the packaging and works smoothly with a variety of belay devices. It is a reasonably stiff feeling rope for something of this diameter but I think Edelrid have got the balance between stiffness and durability, just about perfect. The Swift coils easily and kinks very little for a thin rope.

Taking coils crossing the glacier on the way back to the Aiguille du Midi

Taking coils crossing the glacier on the way back to the Aiguille du Midi

Durability

Although the Swift is a specialist rope and definitely not designed as an out and out sport climbing rope, I have found it to be incredibly durable, in fact more so than other dedicated single ropes that I own. As I mentioned earlier, I have used the Swift for a number of applications, regularly and over a 12 month period and it still shows very little signs of wear. The dry treatment has helped with this and the rope picks up very little dirt and moisture. It also has not given me any problems whatsoever in terms of freezing up.

Conclusion

The Edelrid Swift 8.9mm triple rated rope is my current favourite rope. It’s not the rope to go for if you want a single dedicated rope for one application. It’s a bit more specialist and as such it will be suited to mountain professional, alpinists and those who are looking to save weight, rather than those wanting a rope suited to everyday cragging.

Price: 50m – £160, 60m – £190, 70m – £225
Stockists:

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